- May 29, 2001
As much as I have proven that I love the sound of my own voice, I've spent 24 hours trying to avoid repeating myself, and I just can't quite do it.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about this snapshot in history representing a moment of truth for the Texas program.
Last week, my message was simple... Texas was too far down the road to turn back.
Now? I've spent the last 24 hours digesting the apparent announcement from Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte that Tom Herman will return in 2021 for his fifth season as Texas head coach, and I'm struggling to come up with words that I personally haven't already been said.
Oh, I could rant and rave about the state of recruiting and the dangers of the status quo, but I've already covered that ground (for the record, only during Charlie Strong's final couple of months has the state of Texas' recruiting and its outlook for improvement been worse).
There's certainly a column to be written about the set of decisions over the last few months that Del Conte has made, but I've already written so much about those that some folks believe I have a vendetta against him. But I've mostly been pointing out things that are obvious to anyone with their eyes open.
Hell, part of me considered putting together the most condescendingly positive spin that my demented brain could create, but the wounds still feel way too fresh to think that you guys are ready to chuckle about a single damn thing.
Therefore, I'm just going to say a few things that I need to get off my chest, starting with the central theme of my current state of mind... THIS HAS DISASTER WRITTEN ALL OVER IT.
There's a side of me that wants to say that none of this is smart, but I can conceptualize that spending $25-35 million in buyouts during a pandemic is risky; as someone who has preached about the seriousness of the fiscal issues the athletic department might face in the next year, I would understand that line of thinking if these were remotely normal circumstances. But that's not the case.
For me, this is a “break glass in case of emergency” moment. Things weren't this bad in 2013 when the Red Banquet forced Mack Brown out of town. Things were in this neighborhood in the fall of 2016 when Strong was fired, but a stand-in athletic director and a school president that wanted nothing to do with managing football stepped in before it reached where we are now.
No one wants to eat millions during a pandemic, but in a dog-eat-dog world where billions are earned every decade, programs that place winning above all else do what they have to do.
Arizona is spending nearly eight figures to buy out Kevin Sumlin. South Carolina is looking to get out of all the money it owes Will Muschamp, but it is prepared to swallow $13.2 million (not including any staff buyout costs). Hell, Auburn is literally setting fire to $20+ million to get rid of a coach that led the Tigers to a national championship game seven years ago because Auburn can't handle a 6-4 season within the context of Alabama being Alabama.
Auburn isn't a true blueblood or even the No. 1 school in its own state, yet it appears to have significantly more urgency to succeed in football than Texas.
Yes, Urban Meyer is the only surefire, game-changing option that seems to be available, and missing out on him is incredibly disappointing, but the urgency for change isn't reduced just because the first choice declined. The idea that the biggest money-making athletic department in NCAA history is going to let something like 3 percent of its earnings over the past decade keep it from doing what absolutely must be done is small-time.
That's the part that is so upsetting to Texas football fans right now.
It's not the sloppy work from the athletic director. It's not the head football coach that can't get it done. It's not a collective group of university power players missing out on its white whale.
We've all seen that stuff before. Hell, we've seen it all happen at the same time before.
It's just that we've never seen a university that touts "what starts here changes the world" be afraid to be the Joneses because it's easier to live in fear than to act fearlessly.
That's the part that kills the stuff that dreams are made of.
No. 2 - A quick note about Chris Del Conte...
For the record, Del Conte still seems to have full university backing through all that has happened.
Even after the pursuit of Meyer failed and the idea of Herman returning became a realistic possibility, I haven't spoken to anyone whose opinion matters in the grand scheme of things that has done anything but support Del Conte.
In fact, when word started to spread two weeks ago that Texas Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife was becoming more active behind the scenes, multiple university officials made a point to stress that Del Conte was the person ultimately driving the bus.
I'm fascinated to see how this pans out, but no one should be under the impression that Del Conte is feeling pressure for his job because that isn't an active threat. His Q score still seems very high among the most important voices on campus.
There's a part of me that believes that power brokers within the university still want to make a big move (not a marginal one) and I fully expect for the tires to be kicked on every possible premium car. I'd guess that they cringed upon reading Saturday's statement.
You won't see me say that anything about what just happened is 100-percent final.
If Del Conte turns out to be the second-coming of Walter White, I'll be the first person to give him his props. Hell, I'll give his props if he turns into Jesse Pinkman by accident. From my perspective, I see an athletic director that has quietly been setting the stage for a possible Herman return from the moment Oregon lost its first game, which was also about 48 hours after his name was being floated by some folks behind the scenes as a legit option.
Could there be more to it all? Sure, but benefit of the doubt is no longer given around here.
No. 3 - Moments of absolute positivity ...
Given that you might be ready to scream now, if you haven't already, I thought I would write a few positive opinions just to remind you that hope springs eternal.
* I'm convinced that Hudson Card has a chance to be a big-time star. I'm not going to go overboard with hyperbole because I've already done that with a former Lake Travis prep star during this 11-year run of mediocrity, but just know that my instincts tell me to say some really hyperbolic stuff about the young man. From what I hear behind the scenes, my optimism with Card isn't unfounded.
* Bijan Robinson could become a weekly get-out-of-jail-free card for an offense with growing pains in other areas (similar to what OU went through this year).
* The continued evolution of Jake Majors at center and Andrej Karic at left tackle gives the offensive line more hope than I had a month ago. Those two are more advanced than their experience and age would indicate.
* Chris Ash, Mike Yurcich and the rest of an improved coaching staff should have a more normal offseason compared to 2020. Considering how close the losses have been this year, it's fair to wonder if Texas would have been just a little bit better with more preparation.
* DeMarvion Overshown has indicated he might just stick around for another season, and if that happens, he could emerge as one of the best defensive players in the Big 12.
* Texas returns a lot of quality interior players on the defensive side of the ball. I'm not sure where the pass rush is going to come from, but the run defense is promising.
* Texas should return all of its cornerbacks from the season, and that doesn't feel like a small detail.
No. 4 - About the arrest of Ishmael Ibraheem ...
No. 5 - A small recruiting rant ...
I have to say that I don't have many bones to pick with the current Texas rankings in the Class of 2021, but I am mystified by the current No. 13 ranking of Denton Ryan star Ja'Tavion Sanders.
Yes, I know it's an incredibly deep year of talent in the Lone Star State. Yes, I know he's ranked No. 62 overall in the nation, which is nothing to sneeze at.
Still, for my money, he's closer to being the No. 1 ranked prospect in Texas than he is to being the No. 13 prospect.
No. 6 - Truth be told ...
Of all the COVID-related cancellations/postponements this weekend, none disappointed me more than seeing Texas' trip to Waco on Sunday for a matchup against No. 2 Baylor called off.
I'm not sure I thought that Texas was going to win on Sunday, but I sure as hell was looking forward to seeing the Longhorns try.
At the risk of jinxing the season, I'm going to confess that watching Texas basketball is kinda fun at the moment. Long may it continue.
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
(Buy) I said it earlier in the week, and I'll say it again, I think we'll see a very quiet approach to Urban in hopes that if he says no, public embarrassment won't follow. In the meantime, regroup and try again, especially if this is the only option you're willing to make a move for.Urban will again be approached after the playoffs, offered 12MM/yr+, given carte blanche on no. of staff & salaries, & the facilities & administrative structures he desires. In other words, Texas attempts to go ALL in without reservation, but with a final to-be-negotiated contractual limitation.
(Sell) I think Texas fans have an obsession with not accepting mediocrity.Texas fans have an obsession with firing coaches
(Sell) Is this the only thing I can do with the time machine? What if I went back to the Rose Bowl in 2010 and forced Greg Davis to call another play instead of the one that injured Colt? What if I can go back and put stick'em all over Blake Gideon's body in Lubbock in 2008? Part of me just wants to go back to Las Vegas in 2000 and answer the phone when a former Playboy Playmate called my phone while I was watching "Gladiator.”A fully functional time machine appears in your living room with a “gift certificate“ from your fairy godmother attached, giving you the ability, should you so desire, to make it so Texas hires an A.D. different than Del Conte. You hop right in that sucker and execute that mission.
Can't Del Conte keep his job, start making better chess moves and let me use my "gift certificate" on something else? I just feel like I'm going to be quite resentful if I have to use it on him.
(Sell) The Texas admin doesn't believe you will.This fanbase really has the balls to withhold donations and not renew tickets to a level it actually registers as a problem with Texas Admin?
(Sell) That seems unlikely.Urban is coach in 2022, after COVID subsides and he has time to build his team of personnel?
(Sell) I'm not even sure what public narrative exists about the UM saga that is incorrect. Texas swung for the fences and appears to have hit a ball to the warning track. I never sensed that our sources over-hyped the pursuit or under-hyped it. They were pretty tight-lipped and kept details to themselves.As it relates to the UM saga.... It is more likely that “sources” that provide insider information are being passed along said information (whether they realize it or not) to fit a desired public narrative as opposed to the actual behind the scenes facts.
(Buy) It's all about the dollar, dollar bills.Texas plays in a bowl game. Or, the bowl that selects Texas is actually played.
(Sell) Great question. I might need some time to fully digest everything at play, but those odds seem way too high at the moment.Odds of Herman doing well enough in 2021 to survive greater than 50/50?
(Sell) I expect Ossai to leave early.As players leave the Texas program at an alarming rate, Joseph Ossai shocks the college football sports world and announces he’s coming back for his senior season
(Sell) His best chance is for me to be right about Hudson Card.Tom Herman’s best chance to turn recruiting around in 2022 is to take some of his overpaid salary and start personally paying 5 stars. Consider it an investment in his future.
(Buy) Call me naive, but I'll go with A. I'm not sure that anyone could justify going with an up and comer when that same option exists right now and is being bypassed. They'll have to do something dramatic.You buy one of the following on where Texas football is three years from now:
A. After one more year of CTH and a middling 2021 season, change is made, a big-time coaching hire (other than UM) is found, recruiting picks up, the program turns a corner and all of our 2020 angst is largely forgotten;
B. The 2021 season (complete with spring practice, time to install MY/CA systems, good health (any other 2020 excuses?)) shows growth and promise, a spot in the conference championship game, and CTH gets another extension and things pick up in the following seasons as Mensa-propelled coach matures into the position;
C. B, but after the extension we remain mediocre;
D. the 2021 season is a 7-4-ish letdown, recruiting continues to nosedive, CTH is gone and CDC hires either an 'up and coming' coach from a middling program (like the Iowa State's of the world) or a coordinator from an elite program, keeping us in the purgatory of the 15-25 range of recruiting rankings; or
E. After 2021, it all blows up: CTH gone, assistants gone, CDC gone, and we start from scratch, and by 2023 we"re basically still Arkansas, looking for a way to return to prominence.
By the way, I did not include "UM joins us in January" as I don't see it as even remotely possible.
(Sell) Texas has nowhere near as much raw talent in the program as that LSU squad did.2021 is LSU 2016 all over again?
(Sell) Bowl games typically don't have big impacts on recruiting, especially the non-playoff, non-major bowl games.A great Bowl performance will help secure commitments for NSD ll.
(Sell) Recruits questioning Herman's sales pitch of Texas returning to greatness under him is what is setting the tone in 2021 and 2022.Results on the field and getting players drafted are #1 and #2 for recruiting, but the move to recruit more players nationally set an unfavorable tone for 21' and 22' with Texas high school coaches and impacted Texas' chances with keeping top recruits in state.
(Buy) Good feels like a very low bar, though.If and I mean if, UT plays better next season, can the 2022 recruiting class still be good?
(Sell) He feels more like Sonny without fighting skills than Fredo.CDC will forever be Fredo and not Tom Hagen on the 40 Acres?
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the world of sports...
... I kind of enjoyed Florida losing this weekend because of a play that involved someone throwing a shoe 20 yards down the field. Of course, LSU won that game.
... Mack Brown having a team rush for 554 yards against a Manny Diaz defense feels like one of those things that the universe just had to make right.
... Ty Jordan looking like a guy that could compete with Bijan Robinson for carries is not something I expected to see.
... BYU has somehow squeezed in 11 games this season.
... Deep down, Michigan fans are glad the Ohio State game was cancelled.
... I've never cared less about the Dallas Cowboys winning a game than I did on Sunday, but good for Andy Dalton, I guess.
... I actually applaud how poorly the Texans played on Sunday. That's how you tank for a better draft pick.
... Can't say I missed fantasy football this weekend.
No. 9 - The List: Cover Songs
After making this statement on Friday, I thought this would make an excellent topic for a Top 10 list.
The idea behind this isn't that I'm claiming this to be a list of the best cover songs of all time. Instead, the premise is to come up with cover songs that have been covered the most times with the most quality versions.
For instance, "All Along the Watchtower" doesn't make the list because Jimi Hendrix covered a Dylan song in epic fashion, but it does get consideration because U2, Eddie Vedder and Neil Young (among others) have added versions of the song.
10. Imagine (John Lennon, Neil Young, Eva Cassidy, Lady Gaga, Chris Cornell and A Perfect Circle)
9. Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Guns and Roses, Tracy Chapman, Roger Waters and Dolly Parton)
8. Jolene (Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Clarkson, Alison Krauss, The White Stripes and Norah Jones)
7. Respect (Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Tina Turner and Kelly Clarkson)
6. All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, U2, Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, Eric Clapton and Neil Young)
5. Stand By Me (Ben E. King, Otis Redding, John Lennon, Mickey Gilley, U2, Imagine Dragons and Tracy Chapman)
4. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice, Willie Nelson, K.D. Lang and Regina Spektor)
3. Yesterday (The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, Elvis, Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra)
2. A Song For You (Leon Russell, Donny Hathaway, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, The Temptations and Whitney Houston)
1. Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Patti LaBelle, Willie Nelson, Eva Cassidy, Pink and Ariana Grande)
No.10 - And finally...
One of the best friends that this site has ever known is Austin artist Robert Hurst.
Any time we've ever had a cause and needed donations, Robert has been there because more than anything else, he's a good human being who wants to look out for others.
A little piece of my heart broke a few weeks ago when he announced that he was battling cancer, and in trying to think of how we can help him, I figured I would begin by listing a link to his website so that anyone that wants to buy his available work or see this spectacular artwork for the first time knows where to go.
Therefore, please... please.... please...
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